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SEO: How We Optimize Your Web Design

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to a broad spectrum of practices that are designed to enhance the searchability of your web design and to improve site page rankings. Successful SEO requires a deep understanding of how search engines index and evaluate your web design and content, how they determine its relevance, and how different platforms and technologies can help - or hinder - your site's visibility.

Types of SEO Campaigns:

Organic SEO

Organic SEO techniques are specifically designed to leverage your content, website structural elements, and graphics for maximum ranking advantage.

A well-executed SEO strategy will improve the volume and quality of traffic to the website through focused “organic” search results. Because organic search results are generated in the main body of the search engine page results, they have higher credibility and click rates than sponsored search listings (PPC). Organic SEO programs not only earn superior page ranking for organizations but also result in sharper targeting of audience demographics and market niches.

PPC (pay per click)

PPC accounts allow your site to appear along the top and side of the search engine’s pages among the sponsored listings. (Google uses a formula based on keyword relevancy to a search to determine which ads will appear on the top of the site as opposed to the side.) Your ad can appear many times without you ever paying anything for the listing. Aside from any initial set up and maintenance fees, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad into your site. This cost is referred to as the cost per click or CPC. A CPC is assigned to the specific key words you choose to target. CPC’s are bids entered by you and your competitors

when you create a PPC account. Major corporations and e-commerce sites use PPC to increase visibility quickly. In competitive areas, a PPC campaign can easily cost hundreds of dollars per month and more.

SEO Services:

  • Competitive analysis
  • Keyword Research
  • Content Optimization Recommendations
  • Keyword Proximity and Meta Tags
  • Page Title Tags
  • URL revision and testing
  • Site map generation and testing
  • Server Environment
  • Linking/Directories
  • Website submission to search engines
  • Install google analytics
  • Social Media Marketing

SEO Services Defined:

Competitive Analysis
Analysis of your “keyword competitors” and how are they ranked. Examining your competitors' website anatomy and link structure is required for a smart, strategic approach.
Keyword research
Researching the most relevant and most often used keywords that your customers will use to locate your services OR to locate other services that indicate their possible interest. Understanding these 'lateral' relationships helps to broaden your SEO capture.
Content Optimization Recommendations
Google first and primary recommendations are unequivocal: start with well-written, authentic content that accurately describes in detail your organization's services and mission. We do not recommend 'keyword stuffing' - however, we do recommend implementing ample amounts of keyword-rich content. Typically, this means five paragraphs on the Home page (Google views your Home page as the most canonical element - starving it of content is a common SEO handicap).
Keyword Proximity
Keyword density has been pretty much debunked as a myth and/or an easy way to inadvertently trespass into 'Black Hat' territory. Keyword proximity involves the proper distribution of keywords in structural elements to create a kind of keyword 'heat map.'
Page Titles (title tags)
A very important element for Google and other search engines - it has to be handled carefuly. Ongoing keyword research is really needed to determine title tag relevancy.
SEF (Search Engine-Friendly) URLs
Should be short and devoid of file-type suffixes (e.g. ".asp, .html, .php"). Very important element for Bing - Google denies the value of SEF urls, but a lot of SEO specialists think otherwise.
Sitemap creation
Sitemaps inform search engines about navigational paths to pages on their sites that are available for crawling. Especially important with large sites.
Meta Tags/Descriptions
Incorporating page descriptions and relevant keywords into the header section of each page. Metadata should be tailored to match the content of each page.
Server Environment
In the Spring of 2010, Google announced that it would penalize slow-loading sites. That is one reason we strongly recommend against the use of shared hosting, especially with bargain basement providers. We recommend a dedicated server environment and unique IP. Google has recently released a new module for Apache (mod_loadpseed). It works poorly with dynamic platforms, but can help 'flat' websites. We also recommend alternative server technologies like lightppd and nginx.
Linking/Directory submissions
Quality linking to your site from reliable, credible sites (inbound) is extremely helpful, and hard to accomplish. Inbound links are like votes – more votes from more credible voters mean the most for your site. Outbound links also provide a small benefit. Both types should be used in moderation (Google is alert for any effort to game the system). Credible directories help boost the site's overall valuation.
Google Analytics
Create a google analytics account and embed the tracking code to website. We provide all the training you need to understand and navigate in the Analytics dashboard.
Social Media
Social interactions and media sharing among social network participants create the kind of content that can improve a brand’s visibility with search results through profiles, videos, and blog posts. The nature of Social Media encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting, and linking. Popular social content can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.

What Should You Expect for SEO Results?

There are four variables that determine your site's search engine page ranking:

  1. The quality of your site's content, coding, link assets, and history
  2. The quality of competitors' content, coding link assets, and history
  3. Information Consumer behavior (how people use the internet to connect with or bypass your site)
  4. Google (and other search engine) algorithms

Any person or company that guarantees a specific ranking with a certain time frame, such as "You'll be on Google's Page One in three weeks!" is either fraudulent or foolish or both. We NEVER make these types of promises because we cannot control variables 2, 3, and 4 - furthermore, they can be highly volatile. We can make predictions based on our analysis of competitor sites, and we can also point out real-world successes.

Imagine the following scenario: we identify your top seven competitors. Because their website content is so-so and the quality of their coding is sub-standard, we would predict that a well-executed SEO campaign would match or surpass these competitors in about three months (possibly sooner). However, as soon as we start the campaign, three competitors start their own SEO campaigns. Two of these use standard techniques and retain or expand their advantage. A third one uses 'Black Hat' techniques (aka cheating) and gains spectacular page ranking for six months. Your website is stuck at position #4 when six months later, Googles catches the cheater and puts the naughty competitor on time-out. Now you move to #3 or higher. One month after that Google resets their search algorithm and suddenly you and all your competitors drop to page eight - or you vault to #1 - or somewhere in between. These are real-world scenarios that happen all the time.

SEO + Web Design: Bottom Line

SEO is complex and requires careful long-term planning and investment. It does not work well as a one-time 'fix' - you may see some good results, but they are almost certainly going to be temporary. One reason we advocate so strongly for CMS platforms like Joomla is that they allow you to accomplish a lot of the heavy SEO lifting on an ongoing basis for potentially little or no cost (other than your time).